Advice for a Senior Research Scientist Seeking Corporate Funding  
12/23/2009 12:48:27 PM

A senior research scientist must put her research skills to work when seeking corporate funding to find the right fit and the most active companies that are positioned to provide additional funding. By staying in tune with the current trends in his field of expertise and tracking the growth or cutbacks at various firms, a scientist seeking corporate funding can narrow the options and increase the success of the campaign.


High growth trends in industry can translate into research dollars for researchers in private and public laboratories. News sources, such as Science Magazine and New Scientist, can point researchers to areas likely to receive funding at any one time. Popular areas of research expected to see continued growth include bioidentical hormones and other biosimilar treatments, improvements on research and development processes, oncology and consumer healthcare goods.


While large corporations may seem to be better targets for funding requests because they have larger budgets, many smaller companies may put more emphasis on research and depend on research contracts to fulfill their requirements. When considering applications, scientists looking for funding should not count out the smaller firms that honor the creative spirit of science. Consider the culture of the company when looking to apply for funding. Those with small budgets and cutting edge discoveries may be riper for new ideas to explore.


Scientists should look at the financial reports of corporations they are considering approaching for funding to discern their stability. The funding process can be long and arduous and there is no point in lobbying a corporation for private funding for a research project if the company is under bankruptcy protection or receives private equity funding from a large competitor. Reviewing the financials of a publicly traded company is easy through the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), while it may take more initiative and creativity to learn about the financial state of a privately-held company.


While staying in the lab may help to achieve results in the field of science, professional researchers must get out to meet and interact with funders and corporate leaders to build a reputation, form alliances and get the word out about their desire for partnerships. Industry associations and trade groups, such as the American Chemical Society or the Biotechnology Industry Organization, offer plenty of occasions to network with others in the field who can offer suggestions and leads to funding sources. Many deals have been made over drinks at the end of a long day of seminars and meetings.


When looking for funding, scientists should seek assistance from professional fundraisers, university leaders and peers who have been successful in generating corporate funding sources. Advice and consultation from those who raise funds for a living may cost a little upfront, but could prove invaluable in how quickly funds are appropriated and how much can be achieved. Colleagues with similar objectives often are likely to offer free guidance in return for assistance on their own projects.

References Biotech and Pharmaceutical News & Jobs
Science Magazine
American Chemical Society
Yale University
New Scientist
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
Biotechnology Industry Organization